Never Say Never. Dress Into a Skirt.

I’ve always said that I ‘sew’.  I don’t ‘refashion’.  When I went to Florida to visit my dad, one goal to was organize my mom’s personal items. My dad was just. not. ready.  But, he was good about me taking any mementos I wanted. So, I went ahead and selected a few items from her closet that I wanted to preserve in some way. It was remarkable to go through her things because an unbelievable amount were either items I bought for her when I worked retail, clothes I made specifically for her, altered for her or clothes for myself that she got when they no longer fit me. She was always happy and excited for any of them. So, there were a great number of memories in her  closet.

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Inow have this fairly sizable stack of clothing that belongs to her that I don’t want to just give away (won’t fit me because she was teeny). But, I also don’t want to be a hoarder! That leaves me with a bit of refashioning to do. Never, say never. Refashioning these items will allow me to keep the memories of the garment, but still get use of them.

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This dress I made six years ago in 2008 (WHERE DOES THE TIME GO??)  I loved this dress!! But, it was before I knew to make a FBA. And, I couldn’t wear it with my strapless bra which made me my ‘real’ size vs smushing me in. So, I gave it to my mom who wore it to church with a little jacket. I always loved this fabric from my trip to Ghana and worked *really* hard on the dress: silk organza underlining, motif matching, pieced waistband, hand picked zipper — the works!

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So, I’ve turned it into a skirt! I removed the bodice, redistributed the pleats and added a narrow waistband. I can’t tell you how much I love the Perfect Waist Maker by  Dritz (below). Perfect for making interfaced straight waistbands. I need to buy it by the roll.

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Now, the fabric is back in my life, I get to remember my mom, and I have a new skirt.

I sewed like I was single over Mother’s Day weekend. I sent J. to his parent’s house and sewed, sewed, sewed with Linus at my side. Which means, I have three (!!) completed projects — all previewed on my Instagram and to be worn on my Memorial Day vacay to Minneapolis. Love the colors of this knit dress!

About Those Bernina Feet

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Before I made it home from the airport on Saturday, I  went to the Bernina supplier nearest me. I won’t lie. I did not walk away empty handed. I also asked Jordan to wait away from the register as my purchase was rung up.

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  • Walking Foot (which cost more than any one of my non Bernina sewing machines!!!)
  • 1/4 inch / Patchwork foot (I do piecing and I love it for the welt zipper tute by Kenneth King)
  • Edgestitch foot (on order) I live for stitching in the ditch
  • Button sewing foot (I wish I’d had one for the last project. Sometimes thick fabric needs this kind of attachment)
  • Low Shank Adapter

I’m eating Ramen noodles for the next two months. From now on, I’m on the one new foot at Christmas and my birthday plan. Or maybe the foot on sale at the dealership….

My machine did come with a bunch of feet:

174 4mm Lap Seam/ Feller 
20 Open Toe
28 Pintuck foot
181 Clear applique
452 Buttonhole
003 straight stitch hemmer
419 Tailor Tacking
168 2mm Roll and Shell Hemmer Foot
016 Blindstich
470 Overlock
16 Extra wide gathering
007 Zipper
030 Embroidery
000 Zig Zag
285 Small Darning foot

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I really wanted the Low Shank Adapter so I could make use of the ‘regular’ feet I already have. While I would like to have *all* Bernina feet, I am not the recipient of a lottery winnings. I also was desperate to see how my vintage buttonholer would work.

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So, I did, like, 20 buttonholes. They aren’t terrible. But, no matter what, I couldn’t seem to get the spacing wider in the middle. You can see my progression from stitches being right on top of one another to getting a but more wiggle room in the middle.  I’ll need to be super precise when cutting them open. Anyone else use an adapter / vintage buttonholer combo? I just can’t go back to a four step buttonhole ::shudders::

Which leads me to my Singer 301. I think I need to sell her. I bought that machine to have one at my parent’s place in Fla. I brought it home because my dad is certainly not ever asking me to sew for him when I visit. I was going to keep it to do buttonholes but I have my Featherweight and my Kenmore 1030. So, I’m going to list the 301 on Craigslist (pricing will be ‘firm’) and hope for the best! That might at least cover one or two more new Bernina feet!

Review: Hot Patterns 2004: Mr. H.P. Hemmingway Windcheater

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Almost three months past his birthday, Jordan’s got a new jacket! I bought this HP pattern back in 2013 with the thought I would sew it up for a Hanukkah gift. Then, I promised it as a February birthday gift. Luckily, Jordan is patient.

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I love how the HP Windcheater is modeled after high end and very expensive jackets. I submit to you the Filson Fisherman Parka

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At $500 that was never going to be purchased by me.

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I think my version looks pretty similar to theirs in blue!

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So, fabric is a cotton from Mood that I purchased in store in 2013. It’s navy blue cotton with a waterproof layer sandwiched in between. I don’t think it’s super breathable, but, it has great hand. It generally sewed fine with a regular needle. But, when I got to the buttonholes on the front I tried three different needles before the stitching ‘took’. I used a leather needle as it is A designed to go through non-wovens and performed like a champ.

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The lining is a cotton flannel from Joanns that he picked out himself. The sleeves have a silky lining to make it easier to take on and off.

Alterations:

  • Add an inch in length to the jacket
  • Add a inch to the sleeves (he likes them long)
  • Broad back adjustment for movement ease while on his Vespa
  • Added a pleat to the lining for movement ease
  • Scoop out the center front neck at the hood to accommodate for his larger neck.

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Looking at the completed garment I think the shoulders are a little long/ wide for him and I’ll shorten them a bit next time. And, the neck is still tight for him and I’ll need to scoop that out some more.

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For the zipper, I used a two way zip so when he’s on his Vespa or bike, he can unzip from the bottom. I bought and had it cut at Stadham Sewing.

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I also skipped snaps and went with buttons.  He chose these buttons from my stash.

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I didn’t do the drawstring waist. He said he would never use it.

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I added a zipper to the chest pocket. Just big enough to hold his iPhone.

So, I don’t want to gush, but I think he looks so stinking good in this jacket! And, not because of my sewing. I think it just fits him really well, and I love him in navy (and dark green and browns).

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It took me a long time to make this pattern because I’m lazy and it’s the first ‘real’ thing I’ve sewn since last July! I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve *really* sewn.  It felt incredibly good to sit down at a sewing machine and watch a project come together.

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I can see using this pattern over and over and over. And, I’d really like to make a two-tone version for myself like these Universal Works jackets that retails for $345 (it’s unlined).

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The next time I make this, I will use pre-installed drawstring and elastic. You’ll note that I have in the grommets. But, no drawstring yet.

And, I will add interior pockets like so

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and so

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Too bad it’s now too warm for him to wear the jacket…

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Sewing Meet Ups / New Fabric/ HOT PATTERNS!!

Except that time I got married, today was the best day I’ve ever had in Florida!  Tracey (no blog — yet) was kind enough to spend the day with me and we headed out to meet the Hot Patterns duo of Trudy and Jeremy for lunch. I couldn’t stop running my mouth! I was full of questions about them, the company, design philosophy — everything!

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Proof. See. Seriously. Laughing, laughing, laughing.  That’s Trudy in the middle and Tracey to the left.

I’ve long admired Hot Patterns as they were the first non Big 4 pattern makers I’d been exposed to. I’ve had some lovely results from their designs and wanted to thank them for being fashion forward. They are just as passionate about sewing and design as we are and love what they are doing. It was an absolute pleasure to meet them. Plus, I’m a sucker for a fabulous British accent!

After lunch, we went to the newish Pennie Textiles down in Sarasota. Ahmagah.

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It is a *real* fabric store. With linens, wools, silks, fine cottons, shirtings, knits. Like, real, garment sewing fabrics. Last year, my mom and I tried to find a fabric store to make her a skirt in Tampa. Joanns and Hancock were the Land of Fleece. This, now, this is fabric shopping.

Crap. Why didn’t I buy that red and white striped knit below??

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And, then I laid my eyes on this:
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I cannot resist a star themed fabric. Nevermind in three different silk weights.

I also got a STUNNING black eyelet, but I didn’t take a photo. Hopefully, I’ll sew it up so soon I won’t need a photo of it all folded.

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Tony at the cutting table was a doll and happy to talk to you about what they have in stock.

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After fabric shopping Tracy and I headed back up to Tampa where we had dinner with Myra and Andrea. I look tipsy in the photo below. I wasn’t. I swear.

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I had such a good time connecting with these fabulous sewing ladies today. And, I’m coming home with two beautiful pieces of fabric. The last three times I’ve been to Florida it’s been too busy.  This time, it was just me and my dad so my schedule was much more flexible.

I need to figure out a way to take a year off of work, travel the world and just meet other sewers and sewing bloggers.

Anywho, I’m heading back home to Baltimore today with a suitcase full of fabric, patterns and a new to me sewing machine. All in all, a good time in Sunshine State.

The Machine Above All Other Machines?

Greetings from humid Florida!

Remember a few weeks ago when I talked about getting a Bernina? Well, folks, it’s happened! Meet my new-to-me Bernina 830 Record. Mechanical. Solid. Mines.

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Why a new machine when I have three others (Kenmore 1040, Singer 221 Featherweight, Singer 301)? Because I love sewing machines!! And, making Jordan’s jacket last month reminded me I needed a machine with a free arm (had to borrow a blog-reading neighbor’s) and it’s nice to have a heavier full size machine that won’t whine over tough seams. That’s not the fault of my Singer 301. I love that machine. I just needed something stronger.

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Trena seems to think that if I have a Bernina, my machine collecting will be behind me as I will have ‘the one’.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that’s just not true :-) I do still have my eye on a modern Juki straight stitch (I’m a lover of speed) or a vintage Singer 201. But, I will let the universe bring those to me just as it brought the Bernina 830 in my path. How is that you say?

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Well, I have to thank blog reader Patti for making it happen. After I posted last month, she emailed to let me know she lived within 30 minutes of my dad in Florida and 15 minutes away from both a Bernina 83 0 and 1230 that were on Craigslist. Not only did she live close, she offered to test sew them for me! And after test sewing, she let me know the 830 was the bees knees and she’d be happy to procure for me if I wanted!

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Can we have a collective hug for how terrific the sewing community is? And snaps for Patti? I have been on pins and needles to get down here and try it out. And, I do love it. The stitch is beautiful. It’s solid and heavy. The packaging is so well designed. All I have to do now is take out a small personal loan from the bank and start adding to my presser foot collection (1/4, walking, straight stitch, button).

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Can’t wait to get her home and start working on my next project.

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And, I can’t wait for Friday! I’m meeting up with other sewists! Trudy of Hot Patterns and Tracy (no blog) and I are doing some fabric shopping in Sarasota. And later on we’ll head to Tamps to meet up with Andrea and Myra. Again, I need more fabric like I need a hole in the head. But, I always need good sewing company and conversation!

Vogue 7104: Men’s Cummerbund and Tampa Bound

If we’re facebook friends or you follow me on Instagram, you’ve already heard this tale of woe.

We all have slapdash moments. Saturday, was mine. We bought a tuxedo for Jordan a few months ago knowing we had two black tie events within three weeks of each other (fundraiser for theater I’m on the board of and a wedding). And, at around $170 a pop, it didn’t make sense to rent a tux. I took charge of the tuxedo ordering (wool and cashmere blend on sale from Macy’s) and said I was out of the process. Shoes, shirt, etc. were now on him.  Totally forgot about the tuxedos and went about my business.

Saturday morning, “Did you ever get me that tuxedo vest?”

Me, “No…!?”

Him, “Well, what should I wear?”

Me, “I have no idea.”

Him, “Are you going to be able to hem the pants today?”

Me: WHAT?

Him: “Also, the waist is loose and the jacket kind of boxy.”

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I cannot stress this enough: alterations are the worst.  So, that is how I spent my Saturday. Making a cummerbund, taking in his jacket, hemming the pants and taking in the pant waist. Now, the truth is I bought a blind hemmer with the thought I might need to mend and hem pants in my future. But, I wanted to finish my UFO Hot Patterns Windcheater jacket on Saturday!

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There was no way I was going to make a vest that day. So, I elected to go with a cummerbund from Vogue 7104. I chose view F as it mimics the peaked lapel of his jacket. Did you know that the curved look of the cummerbund was designed to mimic the look of a shawl collar tuxedo? Who knew? Not me!

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As for the cummerbund. It’s ‘fine’. I will be remaking it for the wedding we are attending next month. The pattern calls for sew in interfacing and I used silk organza.  But, what it really needs is Peltex or similar tough stiffener. I also want to make him a wider, self-tie bow tie out of the same silk faille. And, a pocket square. I’ll also go with B. Black and Sons to order cummerbund hardware (plus some for bow tie).

Of course, I watched this video after I’d made the waist covering. If I’d seen it first, I’d have used the right interfacing. And, seriously, big ups to A Fabric Place. I sent Jordan to buy cummerbund material while I did the tailoring.  The silk grosgrain / faille was a steep $60 per yard, but you only need 1/4 yard for the style cummerbund I chose.

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It was worth it. He looked like James Bond. But, this also means that his Windcheater is still waiting for buttons to be sewn on. It’s going to be summer by the time I finish that jacket.

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The gala’s theme this year celebrated the work of the costume shop. It was AMAZING.

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They did a fashion show highlighting their work over the past 51 seasons of the theater. I might try and arranage a back stage tour this summer as a meet up. Wouldn’t that be fun?

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This is my third time attending the gala. I’ve always made my dress (First and second years). But, this year I didn’t have the right fabric on hand nor the mojo.

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This year I bought on sale online. This is how I roll. I buy like ten dresses online from stores with free shipping and returns or where  local returns are possible. I pick the ones that work best and send the rest back. Oh, this one had to be hemmed too. But three inches. At least I got a headband out of the excess!


I’m leaving on Wednesday morning to see my dad for a few days near Tampa (in Hernando County). Does anyone want to try and meet up? I head back to Baltimore on Saturday morning. But, other than picking up my vintage Bernina (squee!!!) am flexible with time. Plus, I’ll have a car so I can come back to Tampa too. We don’t have to go to a fabric store. It could be drinks or lunch or anything really!

So Close, Yet So Far

I am *almost* done with Jordan’s HP Windcheater jacket. Truly. I just need to add buttonholes and buttons and I’ll be set. I SWORE I would get it done today (we’re off for Good Friday).

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But, grrr, Nigel, my MINI Cooper,  got keyed overnight  by some dickhead and I spent a bunch of time talking to insurance and getting a police report.

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Anywho, I wanted to finish this for Jordan so he could wear it to my (20 year!!) high school reunion in Virginia this weekend, but it looks like it’s not going to get done. It’s more important I get my stray gray hair dyed :-)

Also, I somehow managed to lose the left sleeve lining. So, I have to cut and resew that when I get a moment. So, there’s like 2 hours of work left on this bad boy and I’ll be done. And, maybe ready to start one for myself…

Under Cabinet Lighting and Peg Board

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While I may not be sewing, I’m still moving along (just as slowly) with getting my sewing room set up. Last night, my electrician installed fluorescent lighting under my cabinets in the sewing room.

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When he saw that I was putting in pegboard too, he offered to install it while he was there. I’m super irritated with the peg board (and not just because he was over until 11 p.m. doing the work!). Please note that it extends past both the cabinet and counter on the left.

And it short on the right. Grrrr. But, he didn’t actually charge me above the quoted price for the lighting (and new outlet/ switch). So, beggars can’t be choosers.

I’ve got most of my pressing tools on there now and that helps free up a drawer.

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And this task lamp to the right (on the desk) was a Valentine’s Day gift from the hubs.  I still need some storage cups for the pegboard and a few more baskets.

Overall, SUPER happy to get this task done!

Liz has promised to help me finish folding fabric for my birthday this month. So, once that’s done, I think my room will be fully operational! (I’m not counting new curtains and wall decor in ‘fully operational’).

YO!!!! They are casting for an AMERICAN Sewing Bee!!!

Guys. AAAHHHHH!!!!!  All our dreams are coming true. Love Productions is casting for an American version of the Great British Sewing Bee!!!!! Can you dig it? Because, for serious, I can totally dig it!

Here’s the deal: They are shooting a pilot for the US version. They are casting (now) for people in the New York/ Philly / Jersey area. You don’t have to live there, but if you are selected / interviewed you’ll need to be able to spend some time up there. And since it’s the pilot phase, I don’t think they’ll be putting you up at a hotel :-) If the pilot is awesome and it gets picked up by a network there will be US VERSION!!

Check the release below:

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Click here to download the PDF: Casting Flier, Sewing FINAL (1)

Remember, this is the pilot phase. Which means they will make a test of the show, shop it around, someone will fall in love with it, decide to order up more and we will get our own version.  The pilot may or may not get picked up and it may or may not air. But, the more fabulous you sewists are, the better the odds are right?

Finally, a contest for home sewers. Ohmigoodness. Why are you still reading this? Go, go, go apply *right* now.

New Podcast and More Organization

For some reason, Trena and I like to take tw0-year breaks between our podcasting. You would not believe how incredibly easy it is to do now! Our latest podcast is up along with show notes. From the link you can play, download, and comment. Below, you can see us mid chat via Google.

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 And, we are up on iTunes (feel free to rate our podcast there too). I’d tell you to play from the embedded player below, but it’s not available for WordPress ::shakes fist::  This time we talk about sewing machine accumulation, current projects and other assorted sewing things :-)

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I’m still plugging away at the HP Windcheater. There is so much top stitching!

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My great success this weekend was making a lovely sample double welt pocket using Kenneth King’s method. The one on the Windcheater has a zipper behind it too. That one is not as lovely (the lips are too small). But, I like the decorative impact with the exposed zipper.

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This weekend I also managed to finally get my thread hung on the walls!

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And, I bought pegboard to install between my shelves and countertop. It’s not gone up yet because I need to get some wood for framing.

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Overall a productive weekend. I still have six bins of fabric that need folding. But, it’s just a slow going process :-)